NASA’s planet-hunting TESS satellite: What you need to know - KSWO 7News

NASA’s planet-hunting TESS satellite: What you need to know – KSWO 7News

By Mark Austin

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Initially slated for a two-12 months mission, NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) soars inan elliptical, 13.7-day cycle across the Earth. It’s a novel and excessive orbit that’s by no means been used earlier than, various as shut as 67,000 miles and as far-off as 232,000 miles from its house planet. According to, the steady orbit will permit TESS to stay in space for decades with none need for course corrections.

And it provides the satellite tv for pc a magical perspective.

Outfitted with 4 extensive-angle cameras, TESS will observe 85 % of the encircling sky as it looks for exoplanets. The devices on the spacecraft will map 26 totally different “sectors” of the sky over a two-12 months interval. And with the first amazing images arriving in May, the satellite tv for pc’s future seems to be promising.

Specifically, TESS shall be in search of a phenomenon known as a “transit,” which happens when a planet passes in entrance of its star. The ensuing lower in brightness will be noticed and measured with spectroscopy, giving astronomers a greater thought of the dimensions and composition of the planet.


“TESS is opening a door for a whole new kind of study,” stated Stephen Rinehart at Goddard Space Flight Center. “We’re going to be able study individual planets and start talking about the differences between planets. The targets TESS finds are going to be fantastic subjects for research for decades to come.”

TESS is changing the growing older Kepler telescope, which is running on fumes and can quickly be unable to maneuver. Unlike TESS, Kepler is in a photo voltaic orbit and might make observations in only one course. “TESS will cast a wider net than ever before for enigmatic worlds whose properties can be probed by NASA’s upcoming James Webb Space Telescope and other missions,” stated Paul Hertz of NASA.

Kepler used the identical strategies to uncover greater than 2,600 exoplanets, but it surely was all the time observing the identical space of area, and many of the planets have been greater than a thousand gentle-years away. TESS will set its sights on extra close by stars which can be inside 300 gentle-years of Earth.

The discoveries made by TESS might invite additional research with the upcoming $8.8 billion James Webb Telescope deliberate for launch in 2020. “With those larger telescopes, we’ll be able to look for telltale signs in the atmospheres of those planets that might tell us what the planets are made of, and perhaps even whether they have the kinds of gases in their atmospheres that, on Earth, are an indication of life,” Hertz stated at a information convention.

TESS might even moonlight at instances to examine different cosmic phenomenon it encounters moreover exoplanets. Researchers shall be invited to use the spacecraft as a part of a “guest investigator” program, NASA stated.

“I don’t think we know everything TESS is going to accomplish,” Rinehart added. “To me, the most exciting part of any mission is the unexpected result, the one that nobody saw coming.”

NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellitelaunched on Monday, April 16 aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Pad 40 at Cape Canaveral, Florida. The launch of the following-technology planet-hunting satellite tv for pc wasstreamed live from the NASA website.

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